Overview for the English Strong Ale

The English Strong Ale is traditionally bottled-conditioned and cellared. Most are rich in malt with late hops for bitterness, fruity esters, and warmth from moderate to high alcohol. Medium to full body with a chewy feel. Its color ranges from deep gold to dark brown with most being darker. Its malty backbone has flavors of caramel, toffee, and nut. Occasionally, a touch of chocolate. Esters provide dried and dark fruit flavors. The English Strong Ale sits in the space Strong Bitters, Brown Ales, and Porters but not as strong as the Barleywine.

Style Expectations

An ale of respectable alcoholic strength, traditionally bottled-conditioned and cellared. Can have a wide range of interpretations, but most will have varying degrees of malty richness, late hops and bitterness, fruity esters, and alcohol warmth. Judges should allow for a significant range in character, as long as the beer is within the alcohol strength range and has an interesting ‘British’ character, it likely fits the style. The malt and adjunct flavors and intensity can vary widely, but any combination should result in an agreeable palate experience.

Appearance

Deep gold to dark reddish-brown color (many are fairly dark). Generally clear, although darker versions may be almost opaque. Moderate to low cream- to light tan-colored head; average retention.

Aroma

Malty-sweet with fruity esters, often with a complex blend of dried-fruit, caramel, nuts, toffee, and/or other specialty malt aromas. Some alcohol notes are acceptable, but shouldn’t be hot or solventy. Hop aromas can vary widely, but typically have earthy, resiny, fruity, and/or floral notes. The balance can vary widely, but most examples will have a blend of malt, fruit, hops, and alcohol in varying intensities.

Flavor

Medium to high malt character often rich with nutty, toffee, or caramel flavors. Light chocolate notes are sometimes found in darker beers. May have interesting flavor complexity from brewing sugars. Balance is often malty, but may be well hopped, which affects the impression of maltiness. Moderate fruity esters are common, often with a dark fruit or dried fruit character. The finish may vary from medium dry to somewhat sweet. Alcoholic strength should be evident, though not overwhelming. Diacetyl low to none, and is generally not desirable.

Mouthfeel

Medium to full, chewy body. Alcohol warmth is often evident and always welcome. Low to moderate carbonation. Smooth texture.

Reviews

Double Red Strong Ale

English Strong Ale  •  Simonds Farsons Cisk Plc.

Double Red Strong Ale, an English-style Strong Ale by Simonds Farsons Cisk Plc. offers toasted bread, caramel, and nut balanced by floral hops and tart berry. Read More

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Atlantic-Style Vintage Ale

English Strong Ale  •  Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Atlantic-Style Vintage Ale is an English Strong Ale brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Fuller’s Brewery that blends dark fruits, hops in a boozy powerhouse. Read More

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